On August 25, the National Park Service, which oversees more than 400 locations throughout the U.S., will celebrate its 100th anniversary. You don’t need to tell publishers: several houses have new and updated guides, photography books, and other related titles for spring, and they’re adopting a variety of approaches in order to get the word out.
Fodor’s, which is updating three parks titles for spring, is focused on Web initiatives. In addition to digital advertising, the publisher has put together an online tool to help users plan trips based on various criteria, including preferred activity—e.g. hiking, scenic drives—and season.
Fodor’s parks guides that will get updates for spring include two Compass American Guides—Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (Mar.) and Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks (Apr.)—and Fodor’s Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West (May).
To further boost awareness, Fodor’s will participate in a national parks Twitter chat hosted by another travel giant, National Geographic Society (@NatGeo), in April.
National Geographic is getting in on the National Parks anniversary in a variety of ways. Its publishing arm has just released the eighth edition of its Guide to the National Parks of the United States, as well as a centennial edition of National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA (ages 8–12).
“Across National Geographic, there’s a lot of push” around the parks anniversary, says Heidi Vincent, v-p of marketing at the books division. Initiatives include full-page ads promoting national parks titles in National Geographic magazine and in the print and digital editions of National Geographic Traveler. “Our TV channel, National Geographic Wild, is sponsoring a special issue in USA Today, and we’ll have the books promoted there, too.”
Retailers, librarians, and educators can order Nat Geo’s event kit, which includes games, activities, and giveaways for children, as well as Nat Geo titles.
National Geographic Books is also holding a sweepstakes for consumers, which runs March through August. The grand prize is a trip for four to Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks, in conjunction with National Geographic Expeditions.
Lonely Planet is hosting a contest inviting retailers to send, or share via social media, photos of their Lonely Planet displays. In April, the publisher will release two new parks guides (National Parks of America and USA’s National Parks) and update several others, including books on Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Zion.
Associate publisher Robin Barton says Lonely Planet’s parks titles aim for a younger demographic than the typical parks tourist. “The average age of visitors to many of America’s national parks is in the 50s,” he says, adding that Lonely Planet’s National Parks of America “endeavors to appeal to people who have never set foot in a national park before.”
Falcon Guides, which is promoting the new Backpacker’s The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes (Apr.) alongside the roughly 150 national park guides it has published in the past three decades, is teaming up with REI, a major sponsor of the National Park centennial, to create in-store endcap displays for the Backpacker book.
Indies and Artists
Maine native James Kaiser self-published his first guidebook, for Acadia National Park, in 1999; guides to three other U.S. national parks followed, with sales over the past decade of more than 98,000 print units, per Nielsen BookScan.
This year he’s releasing new editions of Acadia (Apr.), Grand Canyon (June), and Joshua Tree and Yosemite (both July), all distributed by PGW; he’s donating five percent of the profits from his Acadia guide to the nonprofit group Friends of Acadia. Sherman’s, a bookstore in Bar Harbor, Maine, will host an Acadia signing on August 27.
Chronicle is taking a nostalgic approach with See America (Mar.), a collection of parks-themed WPA-style posters. The Creative Action Network, which sells crowdsourced art that raises awareness of various causes, produced the book with the National Parks Conservation Association; 1% of proceeds go to NPCA.
To promote the book, which features artwork for 75 national parks and monuments across the 50 states, CAN will host gallery exhibits in Florida, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., among other places, with copies of the book for sale.
Roads and Rails
Parks aren’t the only U.S. attractions to inspire romanticism—in addition to areas of natural beauty and historic import, forthcoming titles explore classic transportation and accommodations.
Avalon’s Moon imprint is adding to the Road Trip series, which celebrates that most American of pastimes, this spring. May brings Moon Route 66 Road Trip, commemorating the historic route’s 90th anniversary, and June sees the publication of Moon Southwest Road Trip.
Railroad Semantics: Train Hopping Across Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon (Microcosm, June), written by train enthusiast Aaron Dactyl, recounts the author’s experiences riding the rails and his encounters with police, railroad workers, and fellow fare evaders. Novelist and journalist William T. Vollmann, no stranger to offbeat adventure, has praised the series.
To the south, Explore Texas: A Nature Travel Guide by Mary O. Parker, with photographs by Jeff Parker (Texas A&M Univ., June), profiles nearly a hundred natural destinations in the Lone Star State. And BBC writer Tim Slessor (First Overland) serves up stories about the West’s history, touching on subjects ranging from fur trading to the Battle of the Little Big Horn, in Out West: Travels Through the American West—Past and Present (Interlink, Apr.).
Elsewhere, Robert Silk’s An Ecotourist’s Guide to the Everglades and Florida Keys (Univ. Press of Florida, Apr.) offers travel tips as well as insight into “Old Florida” and the region’s Native American roots. In 50 Great American Places (Simon & Schuster, Mar.), Brent Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, spotlights locales across the country, such as the Salem Witch Trial Memorial in Massachusetts and Kitty Hawk, N.C., the site of the Wright Brothers’ flights.
Other forthcoming titles focus on accommodations, a theme that dovetails nicely with the parks centennial: according to the National Park Service’s annual visitation summary report, parks visitors logged 14 million overnight stays in 2014, many of those in tents or RVs.
In Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping (Holt, June), Dan White surveys the history of camping in the U.S. and its relation to various intellectual and political movements, including transcendentalism in the 19th century, and the more recent environmental movement Leave No Trace.
The design-focused Vintage Camping Trailers by Paul Lacitinola (Gibbs Smith, May) introduces readers to the various types of RVs and the people who love them, with chapters on collectors, couples, families, and glampers (those who go for the comfort of “glamorous camping”). Lacitinola founded Vintage Camper Trailers magazine, the first U.S.-based publication devoted to camper trailers.
Daniel Lefferts is a writer living in New York.